The Best Coinage The World Has Ever Known

You can run but you can’t hide. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

What a world it would be if we only spoke in clichés.

Is it the kind of world you and I live in?

Do we retreat into beaten-down meadows, like deer who lay where others have already flattened the grass?

There’s less work I suppose. And the grass may still be warm.

But it’s also kind of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

You can enter a home that isn’t yours, you can search for a bed that fits just right, but at the end of the day your cover will be blown.

You can run but you can’t hide.

After all, you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.

Perhaps it is such lying that is really the apple.

For picking fruit from someone else’s tree has never been a good idea.

Those kind of apples certainly keep the good doctor away.

But I guess we also have to be careful to not over-correct.

We must not out of pride be unwilling to enter where others have already been.

No, that is wisdom. We should go where others have gone before. It just depends on who they were and where they went.

And no matter what, we shouldn’t hide within those spaces, pretend that they are our own, and perhaps worst of all, act as if we are the first to ever have entered—delusion of this kind leads us to the belief that we create anything at all.

We don’t.

Think of Adam in the Garden. God is busy whipping up the entire universe from out of nothing. Creating and sculpting, adding and adapting, breathing life into His new world. And Adam, well, he’s one of the building blocks. Yes, certainly a favorite. A favorite that God does not want to be alone.

And something spectacular takes place:

The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him. So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name. The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals… (Genesis 18-20)

God created, Adam named.

It is simply amazing. And humbling.

What an honor. And what a clear indicator of who is truly in charge.

We create nothing. That’s the bad news for those who want to be God.

We do though participate in the ongoing unfolding of God’s perfect and eternal world. We even seem to share the leading role. That’s the Good News for those who believe.

For our work is not to create. We simply can’t. Only God can. And even if we “build” with what is already in existence, if we seemingly “create” something “new” with the building blocks we find already lying around, that “pseudo-creation” still isn’t our primary job.

Then what is?

Well, the original disciples of Jesus had a similar wonder:

So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” (John 6:28-29)

And there’s the crux of it, if you will.

Adam, we must remember, when in the supremely honorable position of naming God’s creatures was still naked, and he felt “no shame.” He hadn’t yet eaten what wasn’t his. He was not yet hiding “among the trees of the garden.” He still believed in the One Who Sends.

Adam was faithful. Adam was original. Adam knew he was God’s creation. And Adam was free to roam.

But Adam used his freedom to choose to become a slave.

Adam’s fall was a fall into self. A fall into creation, the creation of a great lie, that man creates on the same level as God.

It was a great fall. So steep was the cliff off which he went that no other story could ever bring more meaning to the most hackneyed line: “Once upon a time…”

Adam’s fall is a fall into denomination.

A fall into the church of self.

A fall into complete and utter cliché.

And it brought death to the great privilege of cooperating with God, of naming and stewarding on His behalf His created world.

But thanks be to God.

For someone truly original, and creative, finally came round.

He put the apple back up upon the tree and told the snake to take a hike.

His name is Jesus.

He is also called The Son of Man.

But of course we are free to just call Him God.

For about Jesus, nothing is cliché.

It is very clear, there’s absolutely no running or hiding when it comes to the Cross.

And when it comes to His love for us, there’s no apple that can keep the Divine Physician away.


—Howard Hain




Portrait of the Catholic as a Middle-Aged Man


Georges Seurat, “Aman-Jean (Portrait of Edmond Francois Aman-Jean)”, 1882-83, (The Met)

So much is not seen.

What is heard hardly tells the story.

The hairline leaves little to gaze upon.

A good sergeant, he worries little about appearances.

He often feels what he believes is slipping away beneath his feet.

The commands barked from above seem detached from the situation on the ground.

He follows orders anyway.

To many he is somewhat of a joke.

A puppet. A man who can’t think for himself.

Some may even use the word ‘coward’.

But none of this is accurate of course.

No, he is a man of honor.

A noble-man.

He takes his vows and commitments seriously.

He will protect his wife. He will raise his children.

He will stand when others hide.

He will walk forward when others turn away.

Firm and steadfast.

He lives out daily the faith of his fathers.

Quietly and efficiently as possible.

No, he’s certainly not perfect.

And of this he is very conscious.

So much so he wonders often if God has chosen the wrong man.

And this is saving grace.

Humility is purgatorial.

It burns away the dross.

It polishes the trophy.

It propels him to love to heroic measures.

It keeps him around, in the game, engaged, alive, an active participant.

As much as it hurts, he knows it’s true, and he carries on, toward the goal.

Toward what he cannot see, toward what he certainly does not understand.

This man is a hero of faith.

And at the same time he is just another Joe.

Another Tom, Dick or Harry.

But in heaven, when all is said and done, he shall receive a crown.

His cross finally laid down, he shall finally see it as a walking stick.

A beautifully-crafted staff in the hand of a just and upright man.

A righteous upholder of God’s eternal law.

Then he shall take his place, very close to the King and Queen, right beside that other unknown man named Joe.

That common nobody led by angels and mocked by men.

The one chosen by God to raise the Messiah.

For where you find the anonymous man of whom I speak, you too shall discover the Holy Family.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

On earth as it is in heaven.

A little humble home in the middle of nowhere.

An eternal kingdom emanating all that is good.


—Howard Hain


Web Link: Met Museum of Art




Listening Note 1


‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’

—1 Samuel 3:9


What is listening?

It is being passive.

But not everyday, run-of-the-mill passivity—not the kind achieved by man’s own will.

It is passivity that cannot be “achieved”.   Ever.   At all.   By mankind.

For it is active passivity.

Truly active. Truly passive.

But not a balance between the two. Not an evenly leveled scale, not an equal “score” of “5” for each. Listening is not a scientific or sociological accomplishment, nor is it a mere relationship between two contrarieties to be deemed healthy or valid by human means.

Listening is fullness.   A state—a becoming—a verb.   A noun—a subject—the ultimate adjective.

It is complete existence. It is pure life-giving action and it is pure passive reception—it is simultaneous conception and birthing—a total liberated consummation—to the entire degree—the maximum—and beyond.

Life and Death. Resurrection and Ascension. Glory and Praise.

It is achieved— “accomplished”— “brought into being”—by Grace—and the poverty of truly unworthy participation.


We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

(We listen because He spoke us into existence.)


You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16)

(We did not ask to listen, He invited us to hear.)


God always makes the first move: The Unmovable Mover.

God always utters the first sound: The Unspeakable Speaker.

He silently gestures, “grace upon grace”.

Calling for us to use freewill.

Bravely. Boldly. Beautifully.

To actively choose—to “volunteer”—to be passively crucified.

Nailed to the tree—driven into place—into pure passivity.

To Listen.


The LORD said to Samuel: I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it ring.

—1 Samuel 3:11



—Howard Hain




Dressing for the Day


When you take off your clothes are you afraid of where they go?

Do you fear the place your clothes are laid?

Are you more concerned with the placement of your hat, shirt, pants, and shoes than you are of your body?

Obviously not. Although, we may take good care of our clothes. Hang them neatly. Fold them carefully. Push them down softly into a laundry bag.

We may even hold some dear to our hearts.

A wedding gown. A military uniform. A first-communion dress. Fabric entities such as these we often show respect, handle with extra care, hide away in safe places—when in reality they are no longer of much practical use at all.

Our bodies move on, independent of previous cloth. To be washed, fed, laid into bed…prepared for a new day.

The same can be said of our souls.

When you take off your body are you afraid of where it goes?

Do you fear the place your body is laid?

Are you more concerned with the placement of your head, shoulders, knees, and toes than you are of your soul?

Better not.

In reality it is no longer of any practical use at all.

The body is removed from the soul.

The soul marked by faith and wrapped in hope begins an ascent.

The body to be shown respect, handled with extra care, hidden away in a safe place.

Our souls move on, independent of particular flesh. To be washed, fed, tucked into bed…clothed for the ever-lasting day.


—Howard Hain




Innocence Itself

A small, beautiful child.

What could be more innocent?

The tiny face of one born a few days before.

What could be more pure?

At what age does that stop?

When is it that we no longer see an innocent child, but instead, just one more man or woman walking the crowded streets?

If the child is our own, probably never.

Parenthood is a gift.

A gift beyond telling.

Yet every person we shall see this day was once a child.

Every person we shall see this day is still a child.

A small, beautiful child.

What could be more innocent?

The tiny face of one born a few days before.


Can you imagine what Saint Joseph felt?

What it was like to hold Jesus in the crook of his arm?

To present Innocence Itself to the world?


True humility has little to do with wanting to be humble.

It has nothing to do with wanting to look small, tiny, and somewhat sad.

True humility comes through grace.

The grace of knowing that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you on your own cannot stop innocence from being slaughtered.


Somewhere, right now, the infant Jesus is being rejected.

Saint Joseph can hardly believe it:

Here He is. The Son of Man. Please don’t do anything, don’t say anything, don’t even think anything that offends His dignity.”


The next time we are tempted to judge anyone perhaps we should remember that.

Perhaps we should use our imagination, our faith, our hope, our love—all the gifts and talents that come from God, that return to God, but that God Himself lends us for the time being—to find a child.

For wasn’t that very person, the one who is about to be judged, once too only a few days old?


Think of Saint Joseph holding Innocence Itself.

Think of Saint Joseph humbly holding a tiny child, a tiny innocent child reaching out to all mankind with outstretched arms—so innocent that it’s hard to even imagine that all the world, that each and every one of us doesn’t immediately reach back with all our might to tenderly embrace this most precious gift—the most precious gift that a guilty world could receive.

Innocence Itself.


—Howard Hain